FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - Drug Database - Asian Ginseng


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Drug Database - Asian Ginseng Asian Ginseng

Common Names: Asian ginseng, ginseng, Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Asiatic ginseng

Latin Name: Panax ginseng

Classification: Herb / Dietary Supplement

Treatment claims for Asian ginseng are numerous and include the use of the herb to support overall health and boost the immune system. Traditional and modern uses of ginseng include:

  • Improving the health of people recovering from illness
  • Increasing a sense of well-being and stamina
  • Improving both mental and physical performance
  • Treating erectile dysfunction, hepatitis C, and symptoms related to menopause
  • Lowering blood glucose and controlling blood pressure
  • What the Science Says
  • Side Effects and Cautions
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    What the Science Says

    Some studies have shown that Asian ginseng may lower blood glucose. Other studies indicate possible beneficial effects on immune function.

    To date, research results on Asian ginseng are not conclusive enough to prove health claims associated with the herb. Only a handful of large clinical trials on Asian ginseng have been conducted. Most studies have been small or have had flaws in design and reporting. Some claims for health benefits have been based only on studies conducted in animals.

    National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) supports studies to better understand the use of Asian ginseng. Areas of recent NCCAM-funded research include Asian ginseng's interactions with other herbs and drugs and the herb's potential to treat chronic lung infection, impaired glucose tolerance, and Alzheimer's disease.

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    Side Effects and Cautions

    When taken by mouth, ginseng is usually well tolerated. Some sources suggest that its use be limited to 3 months because of concerns about the development of side effects.

    The most common side effects are headaches and sleep and gastrointestinal problems.

    Asian ginseng can cause allergic reactions.

    There have been reports of breast tenderness, menstrual irregularities, and high blood pressure associated with Asian ginseng products, but these products' components were not analyzed, so effects may have been due to another herb or drug in the product.

    Asian ginseng may lower levels of blood sugar; this effect may be seen more in people with diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should use extra caution with Asian ginseng, especially if they are using medicines to lower blood sugar or taking other herbs, such as bitter melon and fenugreek, that are also thought to lower blood sugar.

    Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

    Asian ginseng may also inhibit blood clotting. Don't use ginseng if you are already taking anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®).

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    * Ginseng, Asian (Panax ginseng). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:265–277.

    * Ginseng, Panax. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on Oct. 31, 2009.

    * Ginseng. Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on Oct. 31, 2009.

    * Ginseng root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:170–177.

    * National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Hepatitis C and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: 2003 Update. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web site. Accessed on Oct. 31, 2009.

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